Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Holiday Show and Craft Sale

Oakhurst School Exhibit premieres on Holiday Weekend

If museums had hearts, there’d be a soft spot in ours for the Oakhurst School (today’s Board of Education offices at 163 Monmouth Road).  It was our home for 25 years. And many of our first member were drawn to the Museum by their memories of the school.  So what better way to culminate our 30th anniversary year than a tribute to the old place?
On Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7, the Museum holds its 30th Holiday Weekend, and included in the attractions is the premiere of a mini-exhibit on the Oakhurst School.

The Woolley House is transformed

For the two days of the Holiday Weekend, the Woolley House is transformed. The permanent exhibit in the Our Town Gallery makes room for model trains. The displays in the Hearth and Home Gallery are tucked away to accommodate an expanded Museum Shop and Bakery, stocked with homemade treats and one-of-a-kind gifts handcrafted by the Museum quilters. The porch is covered with wreaths and sprays freshly made and on sale by the Ocean Township Garden Club.

Weekend has something for everyone

Dropping by the Museum the first weekend in December has become for many families a welcome way to start the season. Children have fun finding hidden Christmas trees a “Holiday Hunt.” Children and adults alike enjoy the model trains. And it’s the perfect place to start holiday shopping - offering a rich source of locally crafted, unique gifts.  The weekend is also the last chance to take a chance on the Museum quilt; the winning ticket is drawn at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Visitors are the first to see the new exhibit

The Oakhurst School is a rich topic for an exhibit. It operated as an elementary school for 78 years - the first 57 offering kindergarten through eighth grade. In the course of its almost eight decades, students marveled at the addition of electricity (in 1905) and indoor plumbing (1912). They saw gym classes introduced (1919), endured split sessions (1950), and witnessed the start of the space age (with the first U.S. sighting of the Russian Sputnik from our own Deal Test Site, 1957).
The school changed as the township and the country changed. The exhibit is a walk down memory lane for those with personal connections to the school and an engaging insight into Americana for everyone.

Mark you calendars and start the holiday season with us. Recommended donations: adults, $3; children admitted free.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ocean Museum remembers the 80th anniversary of the Morro Castle tragedy

On Saturday, September 8, 1934, the burning hulk of the disabled luxury liner Morro Castle broke free of its towline and drifted dangerously near Convention Hall to run aground just yards off the Asbury Park beachfront. The tragedy (at the time the worst in U.S. merchant marine history) made national headlines. It turned local lifesavers into heroes and Asbury into a sightseeing mecca for the next six months.

Eighty years later (almost to the day), the Township of Ocean Historical Museum, located in the Eden Woolley House at the Ocean Township Library complex on Deal Road, opens a mini-exhibit remembering the Morro Castle. The highlight of the September 7 opening is a dramatization of a radio interview with fictional Morro Castle survivor Ellen Van Brunt. Imagining a WCAP (“City of Asbury Park”) broadcast from Convention Hall, the performance, scheduled for 1:30 and repeated at 3:00, brings events to life.

Bad weather, bad behavior, bad design

A confluence of misfortunes added up to tragedy for the Morro Castle. The liner was on its 174th return trip from Havanna to New York when its captain died mysteriously. That same night, a fire of suspicious origin broke out on board. The acting captain delayed signaling for help, thinking at first he could make it to New York. An oncoming Nor’easter fanned the flames. By 3 a.m. the ship--whose design and materials contributed to the fire’s spread--was ablaze. They were six miles off Sea Girt. Launch of the lifeboats was hampered by fire. Just 6 made it to shore, carrying only 85 people--80 of whom were crew members! Panicked passenagers, who had received no lifesaving instruction, jumped into the sea. Nearby ships sped to pick up survivors.

Local heroes

From shore, local fisherman and boat owners defied the storm to join the rescue. Ambulance crews, police, and fire departments (including Ocean Township’s) rushed to the scene. Local lifeguards pulled corpses and survivors from the water. In the final toll, 400 were saved, 137 died.

Rescue of a different sort

By early afternoon, the Coast Guard cutter Tampa had begun towing the Morro Castle to port. In a final twist of an ill-fated journey, the towline snapped, leaving the ship adrift and headed for shore. Its dramatic landing brought notice to Asbury. Tens of thousands flocked to see the wreck, which sat off the beach for six months. Merchants dealing with Depression Era downturns and a city burdened by debt realized an economic boon. The story of the Morro Castle, already a significant chapter of maritime history, became the stuff of local lore.

Visit the Eden Woolley House September 7 to learn the full story. The exhibit will be up through the end of November.

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum, founded in 1984, is a member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey. Its headquarters, the Eden Woolley House, is one of the few 18th century structures still in existence in the Township and is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.), Thursday Evenings (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and the first and second Sundays of each month (1p.m. to 4 p.m.). For more information, please call 732-531-2136.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New Exhibit – The History of Houses and the Things That Make Them Home

New Exhibit – The History of Houses and the Things That Make Them Home
Exhibit Opens Sunday, June 29, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Eden Woolley House, 703 Deal Road, Ocean, NJ 07712

Since prehistoric times, where we live has been about much more than shelter (think of those cave paintings). A new exhibit explores just how our human instinct to nest has played out in the structures we inhabit and the stuff we put in them. “The History of Houses and the Things that Make Them Home” opens Sunday, June 29, in the Richmond Gallery of the Eden Woolley House.

The new exhibit examines the influences on the design and content of the American home--from the traditions early settlers brought with them, to the availability of materials, to the transforming power of technology. It takes guests on a virtual house tour, revealing room by room how things have changed and how those changes have shaped our lives.

What is home?

It’s where the heart is and there’s no place like it. Beyond shelter, our homes express our tastes, values, and social status. Our neighborhoods abound with homes that illustrate the point, and the new exhibit asks us to see our familiar surroundings in a new light.

It reveals the lineage of familiar house styles--colonial, neoclassical, Victorian, and modern, for example. It explains that the colonists of the new world built houses in the style of the old. That the founding fathers, all men of the Enlightenment, adapted the designs of Greeks and Romans whose rationality they admired. That the clutter and ornamentation of the Victorians expressed their fascination with goods made possible by the Industrial Revolution and made available by the railroads. And that twentieth century architects rejected Victorian fussiness in favor of designs that challenged old assumptions and took advantage of new technologies and building techniques.

The exhibit takes us inside

House design is just the beginning. The exhibit takes us inside, room by room.
For all but the rich, our earliest homes were one-room dwellings. The very concept of a single-purpose room (living, dining, bathing, etc.) is relatively new. And even in early multiple-room houses, people moved from room to room more in pursuit of sunlight and warmth than specific activity. In effect, all rooms were “living rooms.”

Revolutionary new technologies --indoor plumbing, central heating, and electric light, in particular--made room specialization practical. The bathroom, bedchamber, dining room, library, and parlor emerged as distinct spaces in ways that both reflect and influence life style.

Take the living room (aka parlor, drawing room, sitting room, and salon). It has come full circle. As parlor, it was a room often reserved to receive visitors. In time, it became the place where the family “withdrew” to gather around the piano --later the radio and then television. Today, the “great room” has assumed that role and in many homes, the living room is again a more formal space reserved for entertaining guests.

The exhibit makes that case that every house has a story, every room has a history. Join us June 29 to learn more. “The History of Houses and the Things that Make Them Home” will be up through June 2015.

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum, founded in 1984, is a member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey. Its headquarters, the Eden Woolley House, is one of the few 18th century structures still in existence in the Township and is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.), Thursday Evenings (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and the first and second Sundays of each month (1p.m. to 4 p.m.). For more information, please call 732-531-2136.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spring Speaker Event – The History of Homes

Spring Speaker Event – The History of Homes
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm
Old Oakhurst School Auditorium, 163 Monmouth Road, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

This 1971 Deal home was designed by Paul Rudolph, dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1958 to 1965 and a leading mid-century American architect known for his use of concrete and complex floor plans.
On Tuesday, June 10 at 7:15, in the old Oakhurst School Auditorium at 163 Monmouth Road, architect Frank Tomaino hosts a virtual tour of the some of the area's most fascinating houses. His talk, "An Architectural History of Homes," draws on rich examples from nearby communities.

The examples span the centuries and the range of architectural styles--from the earliest colonial, to Levittown-inspired tract homes, to the boldly modern. Along the way, Frank talks about the building techniques, materials, and aesthetic trends that shaped the shore's built environment. He highlights houses designed by some of the world's best architects, and shares his personal stories.

One such tells of the time Frank was called in by Leon Avakian, a prominent local civil engineer, to review plans for a Deal home drawn up by Paul Rudolph. Rudolph was internationally renown architect acclaimed for his striking buildings of the 1960's-70's Brutalist period that pre-dated Postmodernism. Rudolph's work included the Yale School of Architecture Building, the Orange County New York Government Center, and a great glass tower in Hong Kong.

"Leon did not think Rudolph's structure worked and asked me to look at it with him," Frank recalls. "He asked Rudolph's office to beef up some of the cantilevers that you see in the picture. After some 20 years, some did sag and were repaired. Leon was right!"

Frank Tomaino is a Deal native who now lives in Oakhurst. In his distinguished 45 year practice, he has designed homes, schools, and public buildings throughout the country. His awards include the NJ Society of Architects "Architect of the Year (2001)."

The talk, part of the Township of Ocean Historical Museum Speakers' Series, is open to the public, free of charge. Donations are always appreciated. Refreshments are served. Please bring a non-perishable item for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum, founded in 1984, is a member-supported, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its headquarters, the Eden Woolley House, is one of the few 18th century structures still in existence in the Township and is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.), Thursday Evenings (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and the first and second Sundays of each month (1p.m. to 4 p.m.). For more information, please call 732-531-2136.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Weekend In Old Monmouth

FREEHOLD, NJ – The annual “Weekend in Old Monmouth” event returns with 45 historic sites throughout Monmouth County opening their doors to visitors interested in local history. Hours for most sites are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 3 and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 4.
“Weekend in Old Monmouth is a wonderful event for anyone interested in history and architecture,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the County’s Historical Commission, coordinator of the weekend event. “The sites on the tour are generally operated independently of one another, but this special tour project coordinates the hours of operation at several locations so history buffs can travel by foot, bicycle or car to enjoy and take in many of the county’s rich historic places all in one weekend.”
“The tour includes 45 sites and each illustrates a piece of local history,” said John Fabiano, executive director of the Historical Commission. “The outlined tours help put the pieces together by theme or geography. Tour visitors can see the places in any order of their own selection. The proposed starting points are just suggestions for those who may be seeking guidance.”
You can start planning your route by previewing the tour sites on the County’s website at After April 15, a detailed tour book and tour map will be available on the Monmouth County website at On the tour dates, each tour stop will also have maps and booklets available.
The tours also represent several historic themes:
Shore: While the tour includes sites on the north, (Sandy Hook), central (Ocean Grove) and southern shores, (National Guard Militia Museum) the drive along the shore is one of the best ways to feel and appreciate Monmouth County’s relationship to the Ocean.
Faith: Architectural gems of each of the last three centuries, 18th century Christ Church in Shrewsbury, 19th century All Saints Memorial in Middletown and 20th century St. Catharine’s in Spring Lake. In addition, Old Tennent Church in Manalapan is closely tied to the Battle of Monmouth and the Friends Meeting House in Shrewsbury represents one of the oldest worship traditions in Monmouth County.
The Revolutionary War: The Revolution is visited here, not only the major sites in the Monmouth Battlefield area, but in lesser known places such as the Burrowes Mansion in Matawan, Marlpit Hall and the Murray Farm, both in Middletown.
Military: There is Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook, the most heavily fortified installation on the East Coast for much of the 20th century, the National Historic Landmark Monmouth Battlefield in Manalapan and one of the more fascinating, but lesser known museums, the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt with museum exhibits and fighter aircraft and tanks.
Preservation: Marlpit Hall in Middletown was the first restored house museum in the region, dating from its 1930s opening.
Other elements on the tour also include lighthouses, Victorian homes, agriculture, industry, education and science. All of the sites contributed to the importance of preservation and history throughout Monmouth County. The county supports the preservation movement annually by awarding preservation grants to historic sites. Many of the tour locations have received grants in the past.
A site list and map are available on the County’s website at
Tour Site, Municipality
All Saints Memorial Church, Middletown
Allaire Historic Village, Wall
Allen House, Shrewsbury
Ardena School Museum, Howell
Burrowes Mansion Museum, Matawan
Centennial Cottage, Ocean Grove, Neptune
Christ Church, Shrewsbury
Covenhoven House, Freehold
Dr Cooke’s Medical Office, Holmdel
Eatontown Museum, Eatontown
Eden Woolley House, Ocean
Old First Church, Middletown
First Presbyterian Church, Rumson
Friends Meeting House, Shrewsbury
Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove
Holmes-Hendrickson House, Holmdel
InfoAge Science Center (Camp Evans), Wall
Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County, Freehold Township
Keyport Fire Museum, Keyport
Longstreet Farm, Historic, Holmdel
MacKenzie House, Howell
Marlpit Hall & Taylor-Butler House, Middletown
Monmouth Battlefield Monument at the Monmouth County Courthouse, Freehold
Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Manalapan
Monmouth County Historical Association Museum, Freehold
Joseph Murray Farmhouse, Middletown
National Guard Militia Museum, Sea Girt
Oakley Farm House, Freehold Township
Ocean Grove Historical Museum, Ocean Grove
Old Yellow Meeting House, Upper Freehold
Red Bank Woman’s Club, Red Bank
Roosevelt Borough
St. Catharine’s Church, Spring Lake
Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Middletown
Seabright Lawn Tennis & Cricket Club, Rumson
Seabrook-Wilson House, Middletown
Shrewsbury Historical Museum, Shrewsbury
Strauss Mansion Museum, Atlantic Highlands
Old Tennent Church, Manalapan
Twin Lights Lighthouse, Highlands

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10th Annual Spring Tea

10th Annual Spring Tea
Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
West Park Recreation Center, 615 West Park Avenue, Oakhurst, NJ 07755

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum will hold it's 10th Annual Spring Tea, which will take place on Saturday, April 26th from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm. Seating will begin at 1:30 pm. The Tea will be held at the West Park Recreation Center in Oakhurst, NJ 07755.

All food is prepared by Museum volunteers and includes: tea sandwiches, breads, desserts and scones with whipped cream, butter and jam along with a variety of teas. There will be a gift auction, a boutique of hand quilted crafts and doll clothes, and entertainment. Prizes will be awarded for a fancy hat contest, so plan on wearing a hat.


Township of Ocean Historical Museum
Address: 703 Deal Road, Ocean, NJ 07712
Mailing: P.O. Box 516, Oakhurst, NJ 07755-0516

Phone - (732) 531-2136

Email Address:

The Township of Ocean Historical Museum received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.